wei45_NICOLAS ASFOURIAFP via Getty Images_chinese growth NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

Will China Hit Its Growth Target?

China’s GDP growth target for this year looks highly challenging in light of the Ukraine war and US monetary tightening. The target remains feasible, but only if Chinese policymakers return to the sort of market-oriented reforms and regulation that have proved successful in the past.

NEW YORK – In early March, Premier Li Keqiang announced that China is targeting GDP growth of “about 5.5%” this year. That would be ambitious even without Russia’s war against Ukraine and the attendant increases in global energy and food prices. Back in January, for example, the International Monetary Fund forecast that the Chinese economy would grow by only 4.8% in 2022. And in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, GDP increased by just under 6%.

By my calculation, the decline in China’s working-age population is reducing the economy’s potential growth rate by roughly 0.2 percentage points a year. So, if all other factors were like those prevailing in 2019, China’s GDP could potentially grow in 2022 by about 5.4%.

But today, both the Ukraine war and an expected series of interest-rate increases by the US Federal Reserve this year have made the external environment much less favorable to growth. The OECD estimates that the recent spike in energy and food prices triggered by the conflict will reduce global GDP growth by more than one percentage point. Given that China is a big importer of oil, gas, wheat, and other commodities, its growth could slow by a similar amount.